Canadians owe $1.8 trillion but appear to be coping

by Steve Randall13 Mar 2018

Household debt including mortgages reached $1.821 trillion in the fourth quarter of 2017, but bankruptcies and delinquencies declined.

The record high for debt was reached even though Equifax data shows that 46% of Canadians reduced their borrowing. The 37% of people who increased their borrowing did so in larger amounts.

It means that the average personal debt held by Canadians was up 3.3% in Q4 2017 to $22,837.

The total debt owed by Canadians including mortgages ($1.8 trillion) is up 1.3% from the third quarter of 2017, and up 6% from the fourth quarter of 2016. Mortgage borrowing was up 6.2% year-over-year.

However, despite rising debt the 90+ delinquency rate declined by 6.4% and consumer bankruptcies edged lower by 1.7% nationally. Consumers in Newfoundland and Saskatchewan are struggling more though while Albertans are recovering.

“Despite the high debt, mortgage payments are generally on time, which could be attributed to low unemployment numbers and mortgage and auto finance interest rates which are still at historically low and reasonable levels,” said Regina Malina, Senior Director of Decision Insights at Equifax Canada. “As the new mortgage rules begin to impact approval rates, there may be a shift in the profile of mortgage customers, and activity in the real estate market, but at this point most people are managing their payments.”

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